Steve Lambert, Canadian Press, July 7, 2021
Statues of two queens that were torn down by protesters on the Manitoba legislature grounds will be rebuilt, Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday.
“Tearing down is a lot simpler than building up,” Pallister said at his first news conference since the statues were pulled down on Canada Day.
He added that he felt “disgust and disappointment” at the vandalism.
The statues were tied with ropes and hauled to the ground during a demonstration over the deaths of Indigenous children at residential schools.
The statue of Queen Victoria, larger and placed prominently near the main entrance to the legislature grounds, had its head removed. The head was recovered the next day from the nearby Assiniboine River.
A smaller statue of Queen Elizabeth located close to the lieutenant-governor’s residence was toppled but left largely intact.
Pallister said the plan has always been to update some of the language used on monuments so that they more accurately reflect history.
Pallister’s remarks on Canada’s history, however, were criticized.
“The people who came here to this country … didn’t come here to destroy anything. They came here to build,” he said.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs called the comments abhorrent.
“To minimize, romanticize and celebrate the settler colonialism that displaced First Nations from their ancient and sacred lands in the most brutal and heinous ways, the way he did in his comments, is unconscionable and a desecration to the graves of the ancestors on which the legislature is built and on which the City of Winnipeg now lies,” interim Grand Chief Leroy Constant said in a prepared statement.